Autoharps and hammer dulcimers are hard to come by in New Mexico. But Apple Mountain Music has them, along with a host of folk instruments you’d be hard pressed to find elsewhere. Bodhráns, bouzoukis, Irish and Native American flutes, djembes, and didgeridoos are neatly displayed alongside more recognizable harps, ukuleles and fiddles. Ever hear of a bowed psaltery? Owner Debra Fortress is happy to pull one off the shelf of her cozy store and show it to you. They’re as beautiful to look at as they are easy to play. There’s not a lot of plastic at Apple Mountain—these instruments were clearly made with care. They glow with rippling wood grains, Celtic fretwork inlays, ceramic glazes and animal skins. Of course, Fortress sells the sundries—
One of our favorite nerdy items in this store is Pictorial Webster’s: A Visual Dictionary of Curiosities. Non-nerd types are likely to love the assortment of Ten Thousand Waves body products, or a fair-trade wooden xylophone, or a set of 20 iron-on decals in the shapes of birds and foxes and porcupines. Then there are the shelves of children’s books, the stamp sets, the boxes of beads and the stacks of cookbooks. And don’t miss the natural-material clothing, jewelry and hand-stitched wallets.
When it comes to inexpensive local crafts, The Octopus and the Fox is about as nifty and comprehensive as it gets. Featuring more than 60 New Mexico arts-and-crafters, the boutique has everything from felt-lined zia bracelets made from beer cans ($20) to popular recycled sweater cat dolls with button-eyes ($18) made by co-owner Belita Orner. And with a stock of screen-printed tees, girls’ dresses and knitted sweatbands with animal ears, there are as many treats for the kids on your gift list as the adults. (And animals, too; sewn catnip toys feature cute kitty faces.) In fact, just about everything at the store is cute and cozy, even felt Frankenstein and vampire dolls. There's also a full supply of organic body goods, and don't miss the awesome volcano and dinosaur wall art. Plus, the recycled-parts earrings made with bug wings and Plexiglas are bound to turn someone into a happy pixie.
Sukhmani is a family endeavor. Behind the counter, Sat Bachan Anthony smiles and says the store is named for his niece. His wife painted the images adorning the walls. With his mother, he makes the uncommon and beautiful jewelry they sell—chunks of stone in beautiful settings. His sister Sat Gurumukh Khalsa co-owns the small but uncluttered shop. The environment is calm and relaxing. Inexpensive candles and body products line the shelves, and glass cases house jewelry at a variety of prices.
Tucked into the back corner of The Village Shops at Los Ranchos is this pleasingly retro mercantile store. If you're looking to cowboy up, Wagon Mound is the place to go. The shop specializes in ranch-style cookware—from Dutch ovens to cast-iron skillets. The skillets range in size from tiny four-inchers ($5.50) to pizza-sized stove-crushers ($59.95). Pair them up with a cookbook (Field Guild to Dutch Oven Cooking or The Cast Iron Skillet Cookbook, perhaps) and you've got yourself a Christmas gift. Beyond the plentiful cookware is a colorful array of enameled tin dinnerware, from teapots to plates to those ubiquitous tin cups you see in every cowboy movie. Need more cowbell? Wagon Mound has got you covered from small ($5) to large ($66.95). Deerskin gloves, silk handkerchiefs, CDs and jewelry add to the stocking stuffer list for the old-fashioned cowboy or cowgirl in your life.
Nob Hill's Shop and Stroll was besieged by "an apocalyptic windstorm from hell" this year, says Self Serve owner Matie Fricker. It's supposed to be the biggest sales day on the calendar. But the weather depressed turnout, which was "really damaging for our bottom line," she says. It added momentum to a downward trend that started before the winter. "Many local businesses we love have closed in the last year."
Lotus Eye Productions is casting for a new webisode series set to shoot every other Saturday in January. The series is being produced under SAG’s New Media Contract. No pay is involved, but “great exposure” is promised. Producers are looking for four main characters—two women, two men and one transvestite dominatrix—all in their thirties. Auditions will take place Saturday, Dec. 17, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Split Vision Studios (300-A Aspen Road). For audition time and sides, please email your pics and résumés to director Holly Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, go to nmactingstudio.com/
With a name like W.C. Longacre, it's no surprise that he looks like Willie Nelson and talks like a wise journeyman. "I like the term ‘trader,’ ” he says. “I find ‘artist’ is a little presumptuous. I dabble in a lot of creative endeavors." The entrepreneur, craftsman and lover of creativity is also a professionally trained chef (he co-authored Great Bowls of Fire! with Dave DeWitt, aka “The Pope of Peppers”). In the mid-’70s he created the first line of cosmetics made in Albuquerque that was non-animal tested, petroleum-free and used no animal products. These days the 59-year-old lives with the younger artists Colleen O'Callahan and Patrick Stokes. Together, the unlikely fellowship create and trade for a bevy of handmade artifacts. You may be familiar with them if you've been walking around Downtown during your lunch hour. They work from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday—and sometimes Tuesdays and Thursdays, if weather and inclination permit—in the open air downstairs from the Anodyne (409 Central NW).
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Jim Moran (1908-1999) called himself a publicist, but I regard him as a pioneer performance artist. At various times in his colorful career, he led a bull through a china shop in New York City, changed horses in midstream in Nevada's Truckee River and looked for a needle in a haystack until he found it. You might want to draw inspiration from his work in the coming weeks, Aries. You will not only have a knack for mutating clichés and scrambling conventional wisdom. In doing so, you could also pull off feats that might seem improbable.